Country Corner

A weasel with prey captured on CairnCam
A weasel with prey captured on CairnCam

Recent Country Corners have told of the small mammal visitors to one of my camera traps built into a wee pile of stones.

Shrews, voles and field mice are all regular visitors to ‘CairnCam.’

Not surprisingly with small mammals at their annual peak in numbers, the odd predator has also appeared in CairnCam.

One such is the fiery wee weasel. This week’s photo shows a weasel with its vole prey.

The abundant small mammals of the countryside are, in fact, the foundations upon which the food chain is built.

Such small fry are little more than takeaway meals to a variety of predators including foxes, owls, kestrels, stoats and weasels.

Weasels owe their long thin shape to the need to be able to follow shrews, voles, moles and field mice through their burrows and tunnels.

At only 20-25 cm long, the weasel makes up for its lack of stature with an uncanny hunting ability and tough attitude.

A friend of mine even saw one holding grimly onto the neck of a hare like a rodeo rider as the much larger animal jumped, bucked and twisted in an effort to shake off its foe!

As for the unfortunate mice and voles, fear not, they have evolved to produce abundant offspring to offset these ongoing losses to predators.

I suspect, without weasels and the other predators, we would be up to our oxters in furry small fry.

Just look at the mouse plagues of Australia where introduced mice with no natural predators can over run the land like some kind of furry flood.

That is the way of nature, with one species living off another and in turn being predated by something bigger, all the way up the foodchain.

Also, it has to be admitted, weasels are very dapper and handsome wee devils!